You might be facing a daunting coming weekend – the last one before Christmas. It’s frenzied, rushed and every minute counts to finish shopping and check everything off your holiday to-do list. But take a moment this Sunday, December 21st, to observe the winter solstice. It’s the shortest, darkest day of the year. For me, it’s a time to look back at the past year and ahead to hope for brighter days.
I really enjoy observing this special day every year with some sort of ritual. It might be a warm, seasonal meal with friends or something even quieter. This year, I decided to mark the occasion by making a winter solstice swag. It could be a simple way for you to jump off the merry-go-round of modern life and celebrate life around you in this moment – if only for a moment.
I made a swag instead of the traditional wreath because I wanted something informal, a little messy and imperfect. It’s a reflection of how I see the world right now. There’s beauty there, but not always order. All you need are some garden clippings, wire and wire cutters. Green, floral wire is even better, but just use what you have on hand.
We trimmed the lower branches off our Christmas tree a couple weeks ago and set them aside for this project. I started by clipping off the greenest parts and tying them together with wire.
Next came the fun part: walking through the garden to find every little sign of beauty and grace. Even in these dark, cold days there are rose hips hanging on and hydrangea flowers still holding a hint of color. You might take a winter walk around your neighborhood to find pine cones, hawthorne berries or other treasures.
As you arrange them, think about your kindergarten picture – tall/big guys in the back and short/small guys in the front. Use your wire to hold the pieces snugly together and tie it through to the back of the swag, where it’s not visible.
As I made our swag, it felt wonderful to be really mindful of what surrounds us right now and to make a collection of those pieces. It represents my garden today – lots of hard work behind it and beauty ahead of it. And every time I come or go, I see this swag as a reminder to stop the frenzy and enjoy the moment. I hope it does the same for you!